It's Not Yet Midnight review: French acrobatic troupe Compagnie XY bring their jaw-dropping circus act to Roundhouse

Steve Hogarty
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It's Not Yet Midnight

Acrobatics is monster trucks for sophisticates, an ancient and dangerous form of theatre that uses a the constant threat of seeing a broken neck to thrill you down to the guts.

It’s also one of the most pointless things you can do. But if you define art as any creative endeavour that fulfils no practical function, then doing a really cool backflip is right up there with the greatest works of Michelangelo. Do a really cool backflip and land on somebody else’s shoulders/ and you should probably be placed behind glass in The Louvre.

It’s Not Yet Midnight is the work of French circus collective Compagnie XY, and continues the form’s proud tradition of merging dance with daring, gasp-inducing stunts. Dozens of men and women arrive to the stage and begin lazily brawling with one another, before this discordant aggression gives way to a strange sort of furious co-operation. Everyone is dressed like they’re in Last of the Summer Wine, lending the act a relatable friendliness that’s missing from more dazzling circus acts.

Amid the fracas, shapes of intertwining couples emerge. Hands are clasped and then bodies begin to fly. They’re small feats at first, and then greater and greater ones, until dancers are being hurled high above the stage, spinning and somersaulting in fluidly choreographed routines. Maintaining this degree of astonishment over the course of an hour is difficult, and like some spoilt prince you begin withholding your applause for only the tricks that escalate what has come before.

Soon, the sight of a woman launched from a seesaw only to land on the top of a two-tall human tower elicits just a smile and approving nod, as you wait for something even more audacious to happen. And it does, over and over again until everybody is utterly exhausted. An energised, fist-biting show.

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